American plane maker Boeing has announced it is considering discontinuing the production of its iconic aircraft the 747, due to falling demand.
Even though Boeing originally planned to increase production of the wide-body jet - the first generation of which was introduced in 1969 - the firm has now not only revised those plans but also said it might kill off the jet entirely.
Starting in September, the aerospace giant will halve production of 747s as completed planes remain unsold.
"If we are unable to obtain sufficient orders and/or market, production and other risks cannot be mitigated, we could record additional losses that may be material and it is reasonably possible that we could decide to end production of the 747," Boeing said on Wednesday.
Up until this month, Boeing was producing just under two new 747s per month on average. In July, the firm reduced the production rate to one per month. The company originally hoped to increase the production again at the beginning of 2019.
"On the 747 program, we decided to reduce future production expectations and revenue assumptions to account for current and anticipated weakness in the air cargo market," Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg said during a post-earnings call with analysts.
"Despite the ongoing challenges of the air cargo market, we continue to see the 747 as a unique and significant value creator for our customers over the long term."
European aircraft maker Airbus - Boeing’s biggest competitor - also admitted this week that it has seen decreasing demand for its largest cargo and passenger jet, the superjumbo A380. The firm said it will halve production of A380s, aiming to deliver only 12 a year from 2018, instead of the 27 delivered in 2015.
One reason cited for the slowdown in orders is that airlines now tend to prefer smaller two-engine models over large four-engine ones.